engage magazine issue 004 \'07 - Page 15

NEWS FOCUS 15 News “We recommend that businesses should be given support in diversifying their workforces – because SMEs all around the country need help in this area and because the country as a whole would benefit in becoming a fairer, more socially integrated society”. They continue to say: It says SSCs would as a result suggest a course of positive action from sector to actor. This would increase the number of candidates for positions by encouraging potential candidates from all backgrounds to apply, but not positively discriminate. What is your opinion on the content of this article? Do you think the government should step in and help SMEs become more diverse? Should SMEs try or even have to diversify their workplace or is having a diverse workplace not hugely important? engage welcomes your thoughts and suggestions on this issue. Write to: News Focus, Engage Magazine, Studio F11, Waterfront Studios, 1 Dock Road, London, E16 1AH or email gloria@engagemagazine.co.uk. The Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit says: ‘The task of promoting the economic integration of ethnic minority groups through labour market inclusion is intimately linked with the long-term aim of promoting social, cultural, civil and political integration. . . . The limited economic integration of some ethnic minority groups can be linked with, and lead to, greater signs of isolation and alienation from the norms of society as a whole’. The Result? Attracting the widest possible pool of talent into a sector’s workforce would encourage innovation within and between sectors. SSCs would be expected to support SMEs, through advertising campaigns, staging recruitment fairs and events in disadvantaged areas and potentially match-funding diversity training or schemes designed to provide work experience placements. If these recommendations were to go ahead, the report suggests SSCs could be held to account by government against progress made while at the same time being a central point for collaboration between charities, campaigning groups and business organisations. For further information: Demos – www.demos.co.uk Sector Skills Development Agency - www.ssda.org.uk “…..the goal of government should therefore be to help businesses become as open and inclusive as possible.” So, what exactly would the government do? The report recommends that sector skills councils (SSCs)* should be brought in to help SMEs recruit from various backgrounds. This would be addition to SSCs’ four other aims. The report says SSCs have the ability to take an overview of their own sectors and could support employers in reaching and attracting people from a greater range of backgrounds. “SSCs should attract the widest possible pool of talent into the industry, involving new and different people from all backgrounds to work and prosper in the sector,” the report says. *SSCs (Sector Skills Councils) currently cover 85% of the British workforce. They have four key goals: to reduce skills gaps and shortages; improve productivity, business and public performance; increase opportunities to boost the skills and productivity of everyone in the sector’s workforce; and improve learning supply including apprenticeships, higher education and National Occupational Standards. ISSUE FOUR 2007 engage | uk